I do not own Legend of Dragoon, or the characters associated with the game. The plot and original characters are of my own devising however, so I would appreciate anyone asking permission before using elemets of either. Or just leave them alone altogether. Whichever suits.

I've done an overhaul on the first chapter (after putting it off for a year or more now), so there should be a definate improvement in the quality of the writing. To any of you unfortunate to have started reading it with one of the older versions, please accept my profound apologies. It sucketh. :P This said, I will be putting in an overhaul on the next few chapters as well, as promised. Until then, please be patient.

Dart's: POV

Stars splayed themselves across the velvet night sky overhead, here and there obscured by drifting wisps of feathery cloud. With the sharp cold of the winter night they seemed to be unnaturally bright, increased tenfold by the crisp air.

Somewhere in the woods off to my right a owl cried out softly, the sound echoing through the clearing. Lying on my back by the smoldering remains of the night's fire, I shifted the sliver of wood I'd been chewing around in my teeth before spitting it out on the snow at my side. Resting my head back on my arms, my attention shifted from the stars to the Moon that Never Sets.

The name suit it better than we could ever have imagined. Several months after, following in the wake of our battle with Melbu Frahma the Moon had abruptly reformed in the sky without warning. When Albert and I had flown out to the Death Frontier to investigate we had found that the shattered Divine tree had disappeared without a trace; swallowed up by the earth itself. So total was it that were it not for the memories of that last struggle burned into the depths of my mind, I may have almost been able to have brought myself to believe that it had all been a very bad dream.

The key word there is almost.

I've since had a theory provided for the phenomenon, though I'm not sure how correct it is. Since we were able to destroy Melbu Frahma, we had automatically assumed that the Virage Embryo was destroyed along with him. Unfortunately, it wasn't until afterwards that I was able to learn that since Frahma was not the intended vessel for the Virage Embryo, the fusion with the body of the Virage, the Moon itself, was incomplete. So while the moon was destroyed, the spirit remained free to wander. As for the Moon itself…try to think of it as a lizard with it's tail cut off. It looses its tail, but since it's not really all that essential, the lizard survives and continues to live. Eventually, though, the tail will grow back.

A cold breeze gusted through the close-knit trees, the sudden stir reviving the failing embers of the fire. Sitting up, I pulled my heavy overcoat closer around me and mover nearer to the flames, tossing a broken pine branch on to it as I did so. The cold doesn't bother me as much as it used to, but one can only adjust to temperature so far. Still, it kind of gets forced on you when you've been living in the mountainous regions behind Deningrad for three or four months at a time, though it wasn't as though I had much of a choice. Bounty hunters are tenacious buggers, and they're hard to loose once they've picked up on your trail. Still, I'd probably have to move on to the Evergreen Forest soon, but it was a little early yet.

With my mind still twisting around the topic of the Moon, my thoughts turned to the brief prelude to the battle, while we had gathered our wits before hurling ourselves into conflict. Bending over Shana's broken body, I hadn't paid much attention to Rose as she cradled my father's head in her arms. After 11 000 years of aimless wandering, she had finally found a contact to her old life, and the pain and longing was evident on her face as she gazed down at him. Looking back on it now, I can understand, at least in the smallest of ways how she felt. Eleven centuries is a long, long time to spend alone; she was tired.

When she had approached me at last, I didn't notice her standing behind me until she pressed something small and hard into my hand, closing my fingers tightly over it before turning away without another word. When I opened my hand to see what it was I was startled to find a woman's choker, neither the dark fabric nor the polished lump of obsidian tarnished with the passage of years. Frozen in its own personal time, Rose's choker would do the same for whomever wore it. I'm not sure what she had intended for me to do with it. She had looked so sad and angry with herself that I didn't question her. When Rose was in that sort of mood, you did whatever she told you to do. It wasn't until much later that I would realize the full importance of what she had done, even if that had not been her intent.

Upon returning to Seles, I had tucked it away. I've always been something of a sucker for momentos and the like, and I couldn't bring myself to destroy it. It had lain on a shelf for eight years or more gathering dust before I, or anyone, would bother touching it again.

-Seles, twenty-one years ago-

The rain poured out of the sky, soaking the earth and turning the hard packed streets of Seles to a muddy, slippery mess. Dart didn't care. It matched his mood perfectly. Ignoring the downpour he continued until he came to a track of earth just inside the limits of the village. Passing the graves of the victims of the Sandorian raid, Dart walked to the end of the row. A few weeks ago he would have paused to pay his respects. Now there was only one grave that mattered to him. It stood in the back under an old tree; made of white marble, it was decorated with the image of a young girl stroking the face of an enormous dragon. The plague was engraved with various messages, but one had only need to read one to understand well enough who lie there.

Seasons come and go

with the passing of years,

but memory travels on in

the hearts and lives of those

whom you touched.

Shana Feld

Rest in peace

It had been three weeks since the funeral. Four days before that Shana had been struck suddenly by a sickness that none of the doctors could identify. They had sent word to Miranda to bring her dragon spirit, but it had been too late. Shana had died two days later in her sleep, a brief interlude between the raging fevers and heaving coughs that had racked her body.

--

I shook my head, letting out a sigh that drifted on the frigid air like smoke. For years after I had thought there was something that I could have done. That the whole thing could have been prevented. Maybe it could have been; I don't know. I still carry her loss with me, eating at me from the inside, but eventually you have to put the past behind you before it interferes too much with the present.

And over the past twenty years, I've needed my wits about me more strongly than I ever had in my entire life.

-Seles, twenty years ago-

Dart sat on the small terrace out back of his home, staring off into the darkness without really seeing. Absently he rolled a large, polished stone back and forth over his fingers and palm, the motions coming more from idle habit than any conscious intention . It caught in the light of the moon, veins of silver and blue flashing across the crystalline angles of its interior . The spirit of the Divine Dragon, pulled from the eye of the selfsame creature as it had breathed its last breath. While it had been agreed that the rest of the dragoons should give up their spirits to Albert so that they could be kept under guard in the depths of Indels Castle, Dart had held onto his own. Deriving it's power from the lord of all dragons, the power it offered up to its bearer by far eclipsed the strength of any of the other spirits. Not something that one wanted let out of his sight; certainly not to fall into the wrong hands.

His fingers slipped across the smooth surface and the stone rolled from his grip, bouncing once on the planks of the terrace before rolling to a stop. Hearing it fall, Dart dropped his gaze to the orb, though he made no move to retrieve it. It was beautiful and yet at the same time horrible; the material form of the spirit of a long-dead dragon that desired nothing more than destruction. Circumstance had forced him only ever to use the spirit, to fight under its influence once, but the memory was branded into his mind as surely as the tentative link that had been forged with them gem in that instant. Dragoon spirits were used as a tool to amplify the insanity that brings on the conflict of war; this spirit blew it all out of proportion. Emotion; black, seething hatred had flowed through his brain as blood flowed through his veins. The need to slake it had been like a drill boring into his spine; had not Melbu Frahma been of a more immediate concern he would have reversed the change right away. But he had rode the impulses, mastered them in the loosest sense of the word. The power it provided had been their saving grace; for that one reason he held his hand when he would have otherwise hurled it away into the ruins of the divine tree.

The thought of destroying the thing had occurred to him more than once since then. It was an abomination; a blight to the world. If it fell into the wrong hands it would take a miracle to bring the thing down, combined with the blood of countless men. And yet each time the thought occurred to him…

He leaned back against the side of the house, feeling the rough grain of the wood through his shirt. He hadn't destroyed it. Something, somewhere inside him, wanted to hold onto that power. That thought, more than anything else, made him want to cast the thing away. And yet…why? He closed his eyes, rubbing his temple with his fingers.

//Because you know that it can't be destroyed//

The voice, if it could be called that, came from nowhere and everywhere at once, so quiet that the words seemed to slur together so that they were all but indistinguishable. Like breath of wind it came and went, leaving a faint buzz in his mind like an unwelcome aftertaste.

Sitting up slowly he peered off into the darkness, squinting slightly as he strained to see past the soft glow of the lamp. At the same time his other hand went to the planks, groping about for something to swing, or in the very least throw.

//Oh quit it. It's not like I'm in any position to harm you// Again came the voice; stronger now, the words more easily distinguishable.

"What in the name of..." He started again, then cut off as he strained for the words.

As it turned out there was no need. When the voice came again, soft and at the same time as powerful as a roll of thunder it was as clear as if someone were speaking in his ear. //Calm down for a moment. This isn't easy//

"What the… where are you?"

//For someone who's usually so prudent, you're starting to run off course. I think the question you should be asking is 'who'.//

"Alright then, who?" His hand found the rock that was used as a doorjamb; its weight in his palm was comforting, reassuring.

//You'd know me, if you were to use what little brains you have and think about it.//

"Riddles? Say what you mean." He got up from his chair slowly, hefting the stone.

//I thought I told you to stop that. If it makes you feel any better, the rock won't do any good. Can you really hear me? I'm not out 'there', Dart. I'm right here//

"So now I'm hearing voices, huh?" His voice came out a trifle unsteadily.

//Think about it Dart. You've felt me before. What else do you know that can get inside you; link with you body and mind?//

Slowly, incredulously, Dart's eyes dropped to the spirit lying in a rut between two hewn rough planks.

//Now you're on the right track// The voice said approvingly.

"No…way. Impossible." Irrationally, Dart took a step away from the thing. "You're dead. I was there; I saw you die."

//Very good. Now that we've established that, maybe you can relax a bit. You should know better than anyone else that there is very little that can be classified as 'impossible'//

Taking a few deep breaths to steady himself, Dart let the stone drop to the deck. It clunked hollowly on the boards as he took a step forward, then another. Bending over, he reached down and picked up the spirit as though it were a live adder. "All right. I'm listening. What do you want?"

The voice chuckled dryly. //Trust me, it's not a case of want, kid. The will of the creator weighs as heavily on me as it does on you. I never wanted to be linked to any human; if I'd had it my way, you might never have been born//

"Wonderful. What are you doing…" He struggled for a moment, then shook his head. "Why?" Dart asked, his voice sounding vaguely plaintive.

//It would seem that your task isn't done with you yet. My own is just starting. Let's just say for the moment that we have a very, very long way to go, and more to do than you could possibly believe //

"I'm getting too old for that sort of thing."

//Give it a while. You'll be laughing at yourself later. In the meantime though, there's something that I need you to do//

"What?"

//Rose's choker. Find it and bring it out here.//

It seemed innocent enough. Dart obliged, retreating into the dark interiors of the house and retrieving the thing from where it lay. For a moment he considered staying inside, then shook his head. It wouldn't do him any good anyway. Coming back out onto the deck, he lay the thing on the bench next to him. "There. Now what?"

//Put it on.//

"Are you crazy?!"

//You're the one hearing voices, not me. Just do it//

"Don't you know what that thing does?"

//I know exactly what it does. That's why I'm telling you to put it on.//

Catching the irritation in the dragon's last statement, he grudgingly fastened the choker around his neck and turned the collar of his shirt up to cover it. "So why am I doing this exactly?"

//Give it a moment. We're not done yet. Now pick up the spirit and hold it to your chest//

More than slightly confused, Dart did as the dragon asked. "Now what?"

White pain filled his entire being; gasping he fell to the deck, he right leg twisting uncomfortably underneath him as he went down. It lasted only a few brief seconds, but once the pain had passed he was left sprawled on the rough planks, splinters cutting into his cheek from where he had jerked about his head as he thrashed. Breath coming haltingly, he slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position with shaking arms.

"Wha…what the hell was that?" Gradually the trembling subsided, although it did nothing to ease the growing fear that something was horribly wrong. Taking a few long, steadying breaths, it took him a moment to determine what exactly it was. Two fingers going to his jugular, he swallowed. No pulse. Yet as the seconds stretched into minutes, he felt no different. How was it possible? Was he dead, or…?

Something wet splashed onto the back of his hand, and he drew it back, surprised. Blood. Tentatively he put one hand to his slashed cheek and was rewarded with a sting that made him pull it away again almost as quickly. Blood was still flowing, and he wasn't dead. So what was it then?

//I made a slight adjustment to your anatomy, that's all//

Slowly, incredulous realization dawned. "You switched my heart with that bloody stone?!"

//Dart, if you'd take time to think about it, you'd realize the point. The Dragoon Spirits were each once one of a dragon's many hearts. It also is the contact that allows you to use the powers of the dragons. Now that it's inside you, no one can take it from you. It's about as safe as it can get. Isn't that what you wanted?//

"Not like this."

//Stop moping//

"I'll mope if I want to." Dart was starting to calm down a bit. As he wiped away the blood from his cheek onto his sleeve, the dragon's earlier words came back to him. "You mentioned a task. Well?"

//It's a bit difficult to explain// he paused for a moment, presumably collecting his thoughts. //To put it briefly, when we fought Melbu Frahma, things were not entirely what they appeared//

"I can understand that much."

//I thought you could. Now. Frahma was never intended to carry the Moon Child's power; therefore when he tried to complete the fusion with the body of Virage, it failed. What you fought was merly a shadow of what should have been; a very potent shadow to be sure, but still a cry from the real thing//

"Jeez…"

//When you destroyed the body, the spirit was released once again to wander. Even now it moves about the world, seeking a new host body//

"What do you-"Dart stopped, collecting his thoughts. "You mean that there still is a Moon Child out there?"

//Not yet, but there will be. And when it does come, someone will have to be there to stop it. And the next. And the next. Until some way can be found to halt the cycle permanently// When Dart didn't answer immediately, he went on in a somewhat deadpan voice. //If it's any consolation, Rose didn't like the idea much either. It took Charle Frahma days to convince her what had to be done. I know you like it even less//

"But I'll have to do it anyways, won't I?"

//Yes.//

"How long do we have?"

//It could be another 108 years from now. Or it could be tomorrow. The spirit is restless; the pattern may not mean a thing to it anymore//

Dart mulled this over for a moment, then slowly got to his feet. "Do you have a name, or anything like that?"

//Ragnarok will suffice//

--

That was almost twenty years ago. As Ragnarok had predicted, the Moon Child wasn't content to wait. I wish it had been later. Then Albert, Meru and the others wouldn't have had to put up with this mess I've caused. I found the Child about ten years ago, in a village just outside of Bale. And for the first time in years I used the dragoon stone. I didn't need its power, but, let's face the facts: the divine armor looks like a nightmare pulled straight from a troubled child's dreams. No one recognized me, but Albert realized who had done it. Rose's story had never been released to the public; neither had the information concerning my new dragoon spirit. So the villagers turned to the same tired story they always used to explain these things.

It hadn't taken them long to find me; it wasn't exactly like I'd tried to hide. Carting me back to Bale, I'd been tried and convicted before anyone could get much of a word in. Albert's hand was involved somewhere though, because I was deemed 'insane' and tossed in a cell rather than the customary trip to the headsman's block. A strange sort of mercy, I suppose, but it did buy me the time that I needed, whether he had intended it or not.

Ragnarok had been correct on one point, however. After searching me thoroughly and stripping me of what little belongings I carried, my hands were roped together and I was tossed into an old, stone-walled cell in the lower levels of Indels Castle. When night fell and the guards temporarily were absent from their posts as they waited for their relief, I activated the stone from where it lay entombed in my chest. Using the cannon to blast a hole into the wall, I slipped out while water from the river sloshed in.

I'm not sure which surprised the relief more; the flood slowly claiming the lowest level of the castle or the fact that I had made good an escape. In any case, by the time any sort of pursuit was organized, I was already closing in on the Tiberoa-Serdian boarder.

Ten years of running and hiding is death on the nerves. Understandably, I've kept to the mountainous regions; the hills slow down bounty hunters and the sort, but they won't stop them forever. Sooner or later the past will catch up with me, and when it does… well, in a way it already has. Twenty-eight years ago my own quest for the Black Monster ended. And now, well…

Sometimes irony makes me sick.

I'll be working to get the next few chapters re-written over then next couple of weeks. Full priority is still going to the new chapters and the like, but I will post the revamps as they are finished.

To any who are just starting out, and plan to keep on reading, I am so, sooooo very sorry for the poor quality of the next several chapters. Just bear with me for the moment.